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Friday Bolts – 9.23.16

Friday Bolts – 9.23.16

Kelly Dwyer of BDL: “The Oklahoma City Thunder lost out on the same Kevin Durant


Sweepstakes that they seemed to be comfortably in front of heading into the offseason, and because 7-foot former MVPs that can drop 30 in their sleep aren’t usually awaiting your attention on the waiver wire, the Thunder found it rather difficult to replace Durant’s production in the summer that followed KD’s decision. Into the vacuum, yet again, steps Westbrook. He’s been here before, adroitly subbing for Durant’s MVP-styled play during an injury-soaked 2014-15 turn that saw Russell run up his own list of knockout triple-double numbers – a habit that stuck with him deep into 2015-16, even with Durant around. Worse for Thunder fans but more enticing for those bent on selecting Westbrook No. 1 overall in their fantasy league draft was the initial start to OKC’s offseason.”

Erik Horne: “But the Thunder rescinded its qualifying offer to Waiters, making Alex Abrines’ arrival from Spain possible. In August, the team traded two second-round picks in 2017 for Denver big man Joffrey Lauvergne who, along with Abrines, was a second-rounder in 2013. What does five players from one draft say about the Thunder? General manager Sam Presti initially claimed he didn’t know, but followed with what amounted to a rundown of the Thunder’s roster construction since arriving in Oklahoma City.”

Welcome back Stache Bros.

Zach Harper of CBSSports.com says OKC shouldn’t play fast: “So do you double down on the style of play you had last season and hope Victor Oladipo can be a force in transition next to Russ or do you change things up and try to slow it all down to maximize efficiency? That’s the tough call for Year 2 of Billy Donovan. They have good bigs in transition (Steven Adams and Enes Kanter) but those guys don’t do a ton of running on the break. They have guys like Anthony Morrow and Alex Abrines who should be able to stretch to the wings in transition, but you’re not sure how much you want to play them. Oladipo was good as a ball handler in transition and hardly ever turned it over (8.4 percent of the time), but he wasn’t all that good at filling the wings. He’ll have a much more dangerous guard playing alongside him with Westbrook instead of Elfrid Payton, so that could open things up for him, but the Thunder can’t just hope Westbrook creates everything. As dominating as he can be, the defense will only focus on him and that could create some turnover and offensive foul situations for Westbrook. The solution is probably to pull back the reins of this team a bit and see if they can be opportunistic in transition rather than just go-go-go.”

The Draymond Green Rule.

Marc Stein has OKC 10th in first power rankings: “Question: How wounded were Oklahomans by Kevin Durant’s departure? Answer: They celebrated what might be only one extra season of Russell Westbrook as if it were a championship. Plenty of uncertainty about the future remains, but let’s also be clear: Our respect for Angry Russ is such that we still expect the Thunder, thanks to some typically Presti-esque tweaks around him, to make a run at 50 wins even without KD.”

I’m not ready to say bye to KG.

Welcome Brett Dawson to the Thunder beat.

Berry Tramel: “Here’s the good news for the Thunder. The evidence suggests that Donovan is a heck of a coach. The way he brought the team along, the in-game and in-season adjustments he made, finding ways to make Enes Kanter a force against San Antonio and Andre Roberson offensively relevant against Golden State. Think of it this way. For a fortnight, Donovan went head-to-head with Gregg Popovich, one of the greatest tacticians the league has ever known, and Donovan more than held his own. To whatever degree Donovan had to earn and build trust with his ballplayers last season, that’s moot in 2016-17. The Thunder holdovers know they’ve got a coach they can count on, and they can testify to the newcomers.”